Back in 2010, the US Supreme Court handed down an major First Amendment decision, Citizens United vs. FEC. The finding is best summarized from the majority decision written by Anthony Kennedy in one of his rare lucid moments, or maybe because the decision didn’t involve legalizing deviant sexual behavior.
“If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech.”
The left, predictably, was incensed. Before Citizens United the only corporations that could engage in raw electioneering were media corporations. But, as Citizens United noted that if the government could restrict free speech of corporations then it could restrict the speech of newspapers and television networks just as well. In the intervening years what we have discovered is that the ability of corporate money to actually inveigle voters into supporting corporate candidates has been, if not decisively disproved, at least damaged. More importantly, it has allowed small donors to support candidates who stand against the monied interests. As is so often the case, those who have access to wealth and power bitterly resent sharing either .
Despite being backed by the monumental Right to Rise super PAC, Jeb Bush said Monday he would “eliminate” the Supreme Court decision that paved the way for super PACs.
“If I could do it all again I’d eliminate the Supreme Court ruling” Citizens United, Bush told CNN’s Dana Bash. “This is a ridiculous system we have now where you have campaigns that struggle to raise money directly and they can’t be held accountable for the spending of the super PAC that’s their affiliate.”
Bush’s Right to Rise super PAC has dominated the fundraising race, pulling in $117.6 million last year, according to the latest FEC filings. But that money has not been enough to stop Bush’s fall from the front of the Republican pack. And Right to Rise, run by Bush confidant Mike Murphy, has become the subject of derision among Bush supporters.
In order to overturn the court ruling, Bush has said he would seek a constitutional convention, where he would also push for term limits and balanced budget amendment.
This is dumb. Just because Bush put a egomaniacal spendthrift if charge of his super PAC no more invalidates Citizens United than an random shooting invalidates the Second Amendment. If he has a grudge it should be against the real idiocy that limits individual donations to a candidate. If that limit was removed, super PACs would become obsolete very fast. What he’s really sniveling about is that his fundraising has dried up and even though Right to Rise is sitting on $50+million, Bush’s campaign can’t touch it and, barring deus ex machina, it will be broke by the end of March.